This is getting embarrassing. Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes keeps insisting his year-old organization is composed of nothing more than patriotic, Constitution-loving Americans who aren’t a threat to anybody.
Then his members prove otherwise.
The latest is Matthew Fairfield, a suburban Cleveland man who has been sitting in jail since April in lieu of $1 million bail as he awaits trial on 54 criminal counts related to his alleged storing of a live napalm bomb at his suburban Cleveland, Ohio, home, as well as keeping explosives at a friend’s home in Cleveland. A judge this week ruled that Fairfield, 30, is competent to stand trial. He is the president of a local Oath Keepers chapter, according to a prosecutor.
Fairfield was arrested after police found a napalm bomb and another explosive device above the garage at his house in the city of North Olmsted. They also confiscated two assault rifles and several other firearms from the Cleveland home. Fairfield was convicted and sentenced to two years of probation in February for carrying concealed weapons, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
He is but the latest Oath Keeper to run afoul of the law. Early last month, a Georgia Oath Keeper was busted for allegedly plotting to take control of a Madisonville, Tenn., courthouse and place two dozen federal, state and local officials under citizen’s arrest. Police nabbed Darren Huff in his pickup truck, which was adorned with the Oath Keepers logo, before that could happen. He was armed with a pistol and an assault rifle.
Huff’s bizarre scheme, according to authorities, was an apparent attempt to prevent another man, Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, from facing trial for his earlier effort to place a grand jury foreman under citizen’s arrest. Fitzpatrick, a retired Navy commander, is a leader in American Grand Jury — another antigovernment “Patriot” group like the Oath Keepers — that goes around the country issuing “presentments” for the indictment of President Obama for fraud because he supposedly is not a “natural born” U.S. citizen and is therefore ineligible to serve as president.
Yet another self-described Oath Keeper, Charles Dyer, was arrested in January for the alleged rape and forcible sodomy of a 7-year-old child, and for possessing a grenade launcher that had been stolen from a California military base in 2006. A jury recently acquitted Dyer of the federal weapons charge, but the sexual abuse charges are still pending.
Before his arrest, Dyer appeared in YouTube videos complaining about an overreaching government and an imminent takeover by the socialistic “New World Order.” Rhodes, the Oath Keepers founder whose website likewise suggests that a military takeover of the United States is imminent, said Dyer was never a dues-paying member, adding that it wasn’t practical for him to contact everybody who portrays himself as an Oath Keeper. But, in fact, Dyer spoke on behalf of Oath Keepers at a “tea party” event in Oklahoma on July 4 last year. What’s more, an online magazine called Hate Trackers found a note to Oath Keepers members that was written by Rhodes just days before Dyer’s Tea Party appearance. In it, Rhodes promised that Dyer would “deliver one heck of a fiery speech.”
Still, Rhodes maintains that Oath Keepers is about nothing more than persuading people serving in law enforcement and the military to uphold the oath they swore and to disobey orders that violate the Constitution, such as imposing martial law or a state of emergency on a state, or forcing citizens into detention camps.
“We’re not talking about asking them to go fight,” Rhodes said on MSNBC’s “Hardball” last October. “We’re saying simply, don’t fight.”
Some Oath Keepers don’t seem to have gotten the message.